Journal scan

Prader-Willi syndrome – the impact of vagal nerve stimulation

A summary of the findings from an open trial of vagus nerve stimulation
Journal_Scan

Three people with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) have been involved in research to address the effects of vagal nerve stimulation on their eating habits. The three, recruited with the support of the PWS Association, all had the capacity to consent to the involvement and each person underwent careful baseline psychological and physical tests before the research. The vagal nerve electrodes were inserted in the usual way and stimulation began 3 months post-operatively, increasing gradually to a level acceptable to the individual.

One participant dropped out due to an increase in weight. For the other two applicants, one maintained his weight over an 8-month period, while the other person lost weight and maintained the weight loss. The most startling outcomes of the study related to the individuals behavioural changes. Both participants were said to search for and hide food less. Following vagal nerve stimulation, they were more amenable to food-related routine

...

Three people with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) have been involved in research to address the effects of vagal nerve stimulation on their eating habits. The three, recruited with the support of the PWS Association, all had the capacity to consent to the involvement and each person underwent careful baseline psychological and physical tests before the research. The vagal nerve electrodes were inserted in the usual way and stimulation began 3 months post-operatively, increasing gradually to a level acceptable to the individual.

One participant dropped out due to an increase in weight. For the other two applicants, one maintained his weight over an 8-month period, while the other person lost weight and maintained the weight loss. The most startling outcomes of the study related to the individuals’ behavioural changes. Both participants were said to search for and hide food less. Following vagal nerve stimulation, they were more amenable to food-related routine changes and voluntarily missed meals.

There were also changes in their social and intellectual behaviour. With food no longer filling their every thought, they became more tolerant in social situations and could engage in activities not involving food. Increased emotional flexibility was also reported, such as appearing to lose their tempers much less. While the study’s results have limitations because so few participants were involved, they raised intriguing questions about how vagal nerve stimulation might affect food-related activities and the lives of people with PWS.

Manning K et al (2016) Novel insights into maladaptive behaviours in Prader-Willi syndrome: serendipitous findings from an open trial of vagus nerve stimulation. Journal of intellectual Disability Research. 60, 2, 149-155. doi: 10.1111/jir12203

Journal Scan is compiled by Stacey Atkinson, learning disability nursing lead at the University of Huddersfield

Want to read more?

Subscribe for unlimited access

Enjoy 1 month's access for £1 and get:

  • Full access to learningdisabilitypractice.com
  • Bi-monthly digital edition
  • RCNi Portfolio and interactive CPD quizzes
  • RCNi Learning with 200+ evidence-based modules
  • 10 articles a month from any other RCNi journal

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs